My stay at the Rhône-Alpes region of France was quite short but yet very intimate, giving me a glimpse into French life in the province. Rhône-Alpes is situated in the East of France just like Alsace, but considerably more to the South which gives this region a distinct central-southern flavor. Vineyards, hills, small towns and hectic roads. It’s a pity you always seem to drive through and along this beauty but you rarely stop by! This is what I did this time, though – to sample yet another region of France. And of course this sampling was pretty much gastronomic as well! Especially when you’re staying at you friend’s house where they imperatively serve all the French meal courses at least twice a day!
We’ve visited Valence, the capital of the Drôme department (one of the departments of the region) and stayed at my friend’s place in Tain (or rather Tain-l’Hermitage) spread along the curling Rhône river. They say that À Valence le Midi commence (The South of France begins at Valence). The town of Tain is small compared to Valence and there’s something of a resort there, this long promenade area along the river, the fountain in the square where the marché takes place and the overall atmosphere of, well, slow-paced and wealthy life.
The most famous local products are the local AOC (appellation d’origine contrôlée) vines, the well-known Côtes-du-Rhône, mostly red, wines. It’s not only wine that these hills are rich with but also peaches, apricots and cherries. There’s also a factory of super-expensive chocolate Valrhona with free degustation : )
We’ve climbed the Hermitage hill up to the Chapelle Hermitage (Chapelle Saint-Christophe) to get a splendid view over the Rhône river valley. They say a hermit used to live here on top of the hill (hence the name) – well, he must surely have enjoyed the vista! And now they produce some rather expensive wine here, growing grapes right on the top and all along the slopes.
May is the month of poppies and lily-of-the-valley in France and in this region poppies are widespread – burning red spots scattered all over the brand new green grass. Just beautiful.
Standing there on top of the hill and suddenly feeling so close to the skies was amazing.
And now a glimpse of Valence where we headed to for some sightseeing:
The traditional couronne bread and baked bread men called… Swiss
Central park of Valence with a view over the Drôme hills:
Inside the park:
And in the evening when we came back to Tain, we walked in the old city center and saw one of the vine boutiques:
And then we crossed the Rhône river via the Marc Seguin bridge which unites two cities located in two different departments – Tain of Drôme and Tournon-sur-Rhône of Ardèche.
The hills of Tain where the chapel is perched on look just so unreal
The next morning before we set off to Provence, we went to the local market in Tain, where I bought a heavy sausage for my Dad. My Dad says it was so delicious he had to stop himself from eating it all right away. But the only thing I can say is that even three plastic bags could not keep the aroma of the all-natural product locked in whenever I unzipped my rucksack .)
We’ve tried lots of local and just French types of cheese at my friend’s house but unfortunately I failed to get a traditional recipe from the region which would use cheese. Ironically, we ate baked (!) Camembert on our way to Provence, which I will tell you in one of my next posts. For the lack of something authentic cheese-loaded and oh-so-Frenchy, here’s a dish I baked just a couple of days ago which can be considered French at least by its name : ) Welcome on your plate Cheesy Cauliflower Soufflé, in this photo already de-constructed and served with some tapenade povençale…
A year ago – Ecco Una Collezione Italiana
Cheesy Cauliflower Soufflé (Low Carb & Gluten-Free) adapted from www.theironyou.com will make a soft salty omelette-like soufflé with a secret ingredient that even vegetable-intolerant meat lovers will not tell!
Check the original recipe following the link above. Here are some of my remarks:
cut into floretsI used regular 2.5% fat milk and my cauliflower was already cut into florets as it was frozen (no problem with that). I seasoned the dish with mélange povençale (super aromatic herb mix I bought in Provence) which I strongly recommend as it also gives a flavor to the dish if, as in my case, you’re using just plain cheese (and not cheddar or Parmesan as suggested).
Be careful with the amount of salt: my Russian cheese variety was quite salty already which made my soufflé a tad too salty.
The recipe says you can use either a large soufflé dish or 6 ramekins – I preferred the smaller pans. Here they are right in the oven – I feared they would collapse right away before I could take a picture of them and, well, they did!
Result: Salty, cheesy, soft and nutritious! I like the recipe as it is relatively easy (although with separate stages of preparation) and has just 3 eggs (not 5 like in some authentic French recipes), no flour and – of course – this secret vegetable ingredients which is almost indistinguishable in the cheesy texture of the dish – but you KNOW it’s there! : ) For an even cheesier soufflé you could grate some cheese on top of each soufflé before baking, I can only imagine what a cheese crust that would create! BTW, I know this is a sacrilege for a French person but we reheated the soufflé in its dish in the microwave the next day and… it even puffed up a bit : )
So much like summer here in St Pete already! Such a stark difference with the early May!